FLAGLER COUNTY, Fla. - The NAACP is blasting the Flagler County Sheriff's Office over allegations of racial discrimination against its employees.
The group told Channel 9’s Mike Springer that a lawsuit hasn’t been filed yet, but that Jennifer Harris' firing is an example of a continued pattern of discrimination by the sheriff's office.
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The 10-page complaint accuses the sheriff’s office of discriminating against employees based on their race.
The NAACP filed the complaint after Harris was terminated from her position as a victim advocate in the department in June. She was a new hire and under her probationary period at the time.
“Mrs. Harris was more than qualified for the job that she was hired for. She was let go without correct process,” said Linda Matthews, president of the Flagler County NAACP.
The NAACP said the problems with the sheriff’s office go beyond just Harris’s firing.
According to the NAACP, there are 106 sworn deputies on the force, but only five African-American deputies on patrol; one is a sergeant, and none of the 19 sworn deputies promoted in May were African-American.
“He's (Sheriff Rick Staly) limited by law and by contract of who he can promote, so we don’t have the applications that are people of color within those numbers. There’s nothing he can really do about it,” said Chief Mark Strobridge with the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office.
The sheriff office would not discuss the specifics of Harris' firing with Eyewitness News, however, a spokesman said since the sheriff took over in January he hired 32 new employees and three of them were African-American.
Census data shows 11 percent of Flagler County are African-American.
The NAACP said the sheriff's office should reflect that with all of its employees.
“Even though the sheriff might say he inherited some of these issues, he’s been in place long enough to have corrected a lot of these issues,” Matthews said.
Matthews said she wants to meet with the sheriff to discuss ways to hire more minorities. That's something the sheriff's office says it’s willing to do.
The sheriff's office said it wants the NAACP to send any qualified candidates for civilian and non-civilian positions its way.
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